More and more doctors nowadays, are realizing that they must deal with a very significant problem. Some of their patients are angry, oppositional, and non-compliant, a fact that makes doctors angry as well as frustrated.
As a doctor, you become cynical as you start to think, “There is nothing more I can do to help this person!” This leads you to feel not only exhausted, but also burned out.
You don’t have to change your job, leaving the profession that you worked so hard to get into. You must change the way that you think about your difficult patients.It sounds like wishful thinking, but you can do it.
As a result, you adopt a very negative attitude towards your patients. It’s not really your fault because human doctors naturally have a very suspicious and skeptical nature.
If your patients do not act the way you expect them to or comply with the treatment plan, they are labeled as “difficult” patients. Once you believe a person is difficult, you will naturally look for (and find) evidence that supports that belief.
Of course, you find yourselves avoiding difficult patients, cutting off their conversations, and quickly discharging those people you cannot stand.
Your patients go through some very predictable fears and responses to illness and injury. In turn, medical students and residents also think and respond with some thought distortions and misunderstandings about their patients and themselves.
Armed with awareness and familiarity with the typical patterns, you can learn more about what to expect. You anticipate when you will get push-back, and you are better prepared to act calmly and confidently.
Additionally, you can get curious and ask better questions during those challenging interactions. What else is true about that patient? Could some of the patient’s behavior be a symptom of his disease?
If you remember that, don’t those facts make the patient’s actions a lot more understandable?
Is there another way to approach a problem to which you see only one solution? Can you reach some collaborative plan that satisfies both the patient and you?
Having good intentions and making practice, you can guide yourself towards better thoughts. More optimistic thoughts lead to more positive feelings, which lead to more effective actions and improved results.
In addition, it just feels better as a professional to think, feel, and act with more kindness and empathy. What you think really matters and with a little guidance and repetition, you can find out that there are not difficult patients.